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They also burnt their bags, their phones, money, everything

Date & Time 2020-06-10
Location Soufli, Greece
Reported by Anonymous Partner
Coordinates 41.247694, 26.320374
Pushback from Greece
Pushback to Turkey
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 26 - 26
Group size 12
Countries of origin Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 7-9
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, insulting, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
Police involved 5-7 Greek police officers, 2 (supposed) Greek military officers

The respondent is a 26-year-old man from Afghanistan. On Sunday 4th October 2020 at 8pm, he and  20 other males (including one minor of 17)  from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan  were crossing the Evros river close to the town of Serem, north-western Turkey. After a night’s rest on the Greek side of the border, they started walking further into Greece the next morning.

At  4am on the 6th October, the group  were walking beside a road close to a village called “Mikro Derio”, when  they were apprehended by 5-7 Greek police officers. Several men  fled  when the police officers ordered  them to stop while firing into the air. At no time people were targeted, the shots were fired solely for the purpose of intimidation. The respondent, however,  was prevented from escaping  by tree branches which cut into his leg. 11 others from his group were apprehended by the officers.

The police officers then started beating and kicking the respondent’s group with batons while using derogatory language towards them. Afterwards, they checked their bags and pockets, collected all personal belongings and burnt them.

“they collected everything on the same spot, they put fuel on it and they burnt them”

The respondent and the other members of his group were therefore left without shoes, bags, mobiles, just with one T-shirt and the one pair of trousers they were wearing.

After that, they were loaded onto a blue bus which brought them back to the border close to Soufli. They were  accompanied by the same police officers in separate police cars. The duration of the drive to the border could not exactly be remembered by the respondent as he was suffering from the injury he had sustained from the branch. However, he was able to indicate on a map where the push-back took place.

“he can’t realize [the duration] that because of the pain he had”

When they reached the river, the police officers brought the respondent’s group from the road down to the river, where they were handed over to two people who, according to the respondent, were wearing military clothes, however the respondent could not see any flags on their uniforms. Those two “military officers” were also Greek.

They had to get on a boat that was then, after the police had checked the area for Turkish border guards, driven by the two “military officers” to the other side of the river. At no point did the respondent ask for asylum.

Upon reaching the Turkish side, the group borrowed a mobile phone from a shepherd to call their smuggler who provided them with a location where they could pick up new shoes and some food.